On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to reopen the state "while minimizing the spread of COVID-19." It will enter Phase I, which will loosen social distancing restrictions, on Friday, May 1.
Abbott said, "Now, it's time to set a new course. A course that responsibly opens up business in Texas. We will open in a way that uses safe standards. Safe standards for business, for employees, as well as for their customers. Standards based upon data and on doctors."
All retail stores, malls, restaurants and movie theaters are allowed to reopen, but they have to limit their capacity to 25%. Same goes for museums and libraries, but interactive portions must stay closed. Places of worship, which were already allowed to be open during this stay-at-home order, will be allowed to have more people in their buildings. Outdoor sports can resume, but only if there's no more than four players together at a time. Single-person offices are allowed to reopen and licensed health care professionals are able to go back to work as well.
But, not all businesses can open at once. Bars, gyms, swimming pools, salons, and tattoo studios will remain closed during Phase I. Texas has had more than 26,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 680 deaths.
"The lives saved are priceless, but the price has been steep. Many have lost jobs, others have lost businesses, many are struggling to pay their bills. I want those Texans to know they are not alone in this fight," Abbott said. "Just as we united as one state to slow COVID-19, we must also come together to rebuild the lives and the livelihoods of our fellow Texans."
Abbott encouraged to continue social distancing throughout the phases. If COVID-19 can be contained during Phase I, Texas can move to Phase 2 as early as May 18.